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Rep. Phil Gingrey

IPAB repeal attached to House tort-reform bill

By Jessica Zigmond
Posted: March 13, 2012 - 2:45 pm ET

House members are expected to vote next week on a medical liability reform bill that includes language to repeal the health reform law's Independent Payment Advisory Board, House Republican aides say.

When they return to Capitol Hill after a weeklong recess, House members will consider the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-Cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2011, a bill introduced last year by Reps. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and David Scott (D-Ga.). That bill calls for capping punitive damages in healthcare lawsuits to $250,000 or two times the amount of economic damages awarded, whichever is greater. But the bill that House members will vote on next week also includes the Medicare Decisions Accountability Act of 2012, legislation that would repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provision that calls for a 15-member panel responsible for restricting Medicare cost growth. Two House committees—Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means—have approved the IPAB repeal bill.

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The Congressional Budget Office estimated last week that repealing IPAB would add about $3.1 billion to the federal deficit, while a CBO estimate last year (PDF) showed the tort-reform bill could reduce the deficit by $57 billion over 10 years. House Republicans could face resistance from Democrats on the legislation because it includes repealing part of the Affordable Care Act. However, the aide noted, President Barack Obama has signaled his support for medical liability reform—both to the American Medical Association in 2009 and last year in his State of the Union address.

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